Back in 1964, when Cilla Black was sitting pretty at the top of the charts and classic musical Mary Poppins had just been released, Cadbury launched its Mini Rolls product.
With this heritage in mind, and on the back of a recent revamp, Britain's number one cake product is embarking on its first sales promotion since 2000. Back at the turn of the millennium the company ran its "Win a safe" campaign, an on-pack promotion backed up by TV advertising, which offered consumers the chance to win cash prizes.
Since then Premier Foods has taken over the licensing for Cadbury Cakes with its £1.2 billion acquisition of bakery RHM last year. The first thing the company did is instigate the rebrand of the range - including Mini Rolls, Cake Bars and Flake Cakes. The brand's packaging was overhauled with the introduction of product images while retaining the purple Cadbury branding. The change was designed to build on its food credentials. The strapline "Time for a Cake" has also been added.
Following the launch of this work in the summer, Premier decided it was time to invest in a push behind Cadbury Mini Rolls and create more engagement among its customer base.
Mini Rolls brand manager Sam Bennett says the principle aim of the campaign was to develop loyalty and reward existing customers. There were a number of options on the table, but it was decided an on-pack promotion was the best way to engage people. "We had to target people at the fixture. People don't shop for cakes. They go to the cake aisle and say I want a cake. We didn't want to do above-the-line advertising as we wanted to focus on the consumer directly."
As such the company briefed roster agency Chemistry to identify its customer base and create a promotional campaign. Account director Polly Anderson says research into the brand showed the customers tended to be mothers and fun ones in particular.
"We did a portrait of who we were looking at. Mini Rolls mum is the one who would get on the bouncy castle with her kids. So we looked at that group and thought about what she would have been doing when she was a kid."
The result is a campaign which reflects the four-decade history of the brand. Chemistry came up with "Blast from the Past", an on-pack campaign which revels in nostalgia and is targeted squarely at parents. It offers consumers the opportunity to win a series of iconic toys and gifts from the past. The mechanic consists of on-pack voucher codes which can be redeemed online and by phone.
The gift products, which are all branded with Mini Rolls logos, include the Rubik's Cube, Lava Lamp, a 1960s retro radio, a Yo-Yo and a Space Hopper. Speaking about the campaign, Chemistry executive creative director Mike Cavers says the challenge was to create a campaign that featured a response mechanism, but was still entertaining to consumers. "That's why we've done 'Blast from the Past'. Iconic images like the Slinky or a Rubik's Cube, everyone has a soft spot for them."
Fun for all the family
Bennett continues: "All the products we tried to pick are memory joggers and all of them are designed to be family friendly. For example, the Space Hopper is adult-sized."
Unsurprisingly for a brand embarking on its first promotional campaign in seven years, there were a number of new developments involved in Blast for the Past. The pack-end of the promotion features printing for the first time on the tray inside the pack, including scheme details and voucher codes. One reward point is available with each six-pack.
Bennett says care has been taken over the number of points customers need to accrue in order to redeem a prize. A Rubik's Cube requires six points, for example, with postage to come on top of that. "We've made it clear you don't need to eat four years' worth of Mini Rolls to get a yoyo," she says.
This is also the first time Cadbury Cakes has used a bespoke microsite. Bennett says it was something the brand had been looking at for some time. Notably, there is no form of postal redemption with a helpline the only other alternative. "The majority of people have access to the web. We didn't need a postal element as online is so available."
The site also contains a number of other elements designed to reflect the nostalgia angle of the campaign. This includes a calendar that shows what was big in film, toys, TV and fashion for every year since 1960.
The company's move online has helped add a different element to the campaign beyond a simple collect and redeem mechanism. "Online really worked well for us," says Cavers. "It makes it fun and exciting. You might go online to redeem but when you do you'll also be entertained."
The prizes were all chosen as a result of research into what consumers said were their favourite gifts or toys from when they were young. A long list was created from the repsonses and was then refined by the agency. However, some interesting products fell by the wayside. "Some people came back asking for a Chopper, which was great but you're not going to be able to get that in the post," says Anderson. Other products to be dropped from the list because of size problems included the Hula Hoop.
A bigger slice of the cake
The campaign's principle aim is to reward existing customers and drive brand loyalty rather than grow market share. And Cadbury needs to work to hold market share as the cake sector has seen a number of innovations recently. These include innovations by brand leader Mr Kipling and a redesign by Lyons. "The cake sector at the moment is extremely vibrant," says Bennett.
The campaign is due to run on-pack until April with redemptions valid until August and Bennett says she sees the promotion as more of a loyalty scheme than a sales promotion.
As for the future, she says the plan is to evaluate the campaign in August when the team will consider doing a similar campaign the following season. If this happens, it is likely a number of refinements would be introduced.
It is unlikely that by next year there will be further classic toys to add to the list, but it will be interesting to see whether today's mums and dads will consider 21st century toys to be as iconic as the Space Hopper or Rubik's Cube.
IN MY VIEW
Before I even knew what the promotion was, the very thought of these tiny yule-like logs brought back the warm and fuzzies ... Mum proudly producing a platter of mini-rolls when the new girlfriend came around or the image of Uncle Jeff politely unwrapping his second roll at Christmas.
In my mind the great British mini-roll was one up in the pecking order from the mint Viscount - yes both came with the luxury of foil but only one bore the great Cadbury name.
On opening the site, I was actually pleasantly surprised. I wanted to dislike it as the concept is not a new one. I remember Ribena's "Win cars that make your dad look cool" which probably did it better.
After the whole TV nostalgia-fest of I love the 1970s ("Remember Spangles?") the campaign seems slightly dated. But, there is a genuine brand fit that and emotional mindsticker that is actually very endearing.
The rewards are attainable (you get juggling balls free for only buying a 12-pack), responsible and mostly motivating for the target audience. Though I'm not sure exactly how many mums would actively use a space hopper. Still, none of the rewards feel that desperate, and yes - if I was a young mum, I'd probably collect for a retro radio for £3 and offload the 48 mini-rolls at the next family gathering.
The playful microsite is simple and effective, if slightly annoying with it's bouncing graphics and wheels of fortune that are hard to stop. It's hard to compete against the sheer scale and frivolity of Cadbury's Creme Egg Goo site, but for a simple cost-effective on-pack the promotion is gracious in its purpose and charm.
The site uses few gimmicks and the navigation is clear - you can even enjoy seconds of fun by "rolling back the years", as Mick Hucknall might have once said, on its "Relive your youth" section.
So it's a solid seven - a more accessible alternative to Kit-Kash without the ongoing problem of an exit strategy.
- Jonathan Clow is client services director at BD-NTWK.
7 OUT OF 10.